EUROPE: Clothes Retailing Ripe For Consolidation
Marks & Spencer is still Europe's leading clothing retailer, just ahead of C&A, but a new report on 'Clothing Retailing in Europe' from Retail Intelligence concludes that it is unlikely ever to return to its halcyon days when operating margins exceeded 13 per cent and its UK market share in clothing topped 16 per cent. This is not only as a result of its own difficulties and failings, but also because consumers are looking for greater diversity and a host of rivals (from the USA and Europe as well as from the UK) are rushing to satisfy this need. Along with Ireland, the UK is the most concentrated clothing market in Europe, with the top two players (M&S and Arcadia) capturing a combined market share of 20 per cent in 1998. The equivalent figure for the top two specialists in Germany is 12 per cent and it is less than six per cent in both France and Italy.
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